Tesla names new boss for Fremont plant amid chaotic restart

There’s a new person in charge at the Fremont plant.


James Martin/CNET

The Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California, has a new boss in Richard Miller. According to a report from TechCrunch on Monday, Miller will handle oversight of the entire factory as the automaker returns to work in a… let’s say chaotic fashion.

The news comes from an internal email the website obtained and viewed, and congratulates Miller’s move from director of paint operations to head of production. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Miller’s promotion.

Tesla, which hasn’t been public about leadership changes internally, commended Miller’s work as paint director in the email, though the company’s been known to deliver cars with paint defects in the past. CEO Elon Musk previously said the automaker will focus on paint quality at its upcoming Gigafactory in Berlin, Germany, and the facility will be able to handle far more intricate paint jobs.

Miller appears to succeed Jatinder Dhillon, who previously led the Fremont factory. While unconfirmed, CNBC reported this past March on Dhillon’s departure.

The leadership change comes as Tesla restarts production at the facility without an official green light from Alameda County, where the plant resides. Musk has been incredibly outspoken about the local stay-at-home order, which hasn’t expired for local residents. In contrast, California gave the OK to restart manufacturing in the state last Friday, which led Musk to vent publicly on Twitter.

In a series of tweets this weekend and yesterday, Musk announced a lawsuit as it worked to reopen the factory, said the company would move its headquarters out of California and publicly confirmed the production restart on Monday in direct defiance of local orders. He went as far as saying he’s willing to be arrested over the move. Previously, the CEO called stay-at-home orders “fascist.”

The county, meanwhile, said it’s continued to work with Tesla “in good faith” amid the coronavirus pandemic on Monday and said it would not comment further on the situation. The county also mentioned it planned to receive a site-specific restart plan to ensure workers’ health and safety the same day.

Tesla issued a return-to-work document last Friday detailing the steps it would take to restart production. The company says it won’t require personal protective equipment inside the factory.


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